Tribute to Norm Jennings

About this Item
SpeakersWilliams Mr Ray; D'Amore Ms Angela
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV

Page: 13598

Mr RAY WILLIAMS (Hawkesbury) [1.34 p.m.]: Today I pay tribute to a very special Australian and good friend who passed away recently. Saturday 14 February 2009 was the day Australia lost an ingenious inventor and Rouse Hill lost a favourite son. I speak of none other than Norm Jennings, who was born in 1934 in Riverstone and grew up to invent one of Australia's most iconic products, Dynamic Lifter. As far as great Australian inventions go, Dynamic Lifter was on par with the Victa lawnmower and the Hills hoist. Dynamic Lifter was that much-loved but smelly garden product produced by pelletising chook poo. It was invented 40 years ago by none other than my great mate Norm Jennings of Rouse Hill. The original factory on the corner of Commercial Road and Withers Road is now long gone, but the unmistakable smell of Dynamic Lifter in gardens across this country and around the world will linger forever.
    Norm Jennings was the quintessential blond-haired, blue-eyed Australian and loved everything about his beloved country. He loved learning about how things worked and he especially loved working on cars. Norm, who was clever with his hands, loved nothing more than making something old new again. It was this passion that eventually led him to mastering the art of turning smelly old chook poo into one of the most marketable garden products in the world. Norm was formerly an engineer, learning his trade at Clyde goods yards near Granville. After moving to Rouse Hill he bought land and became a poultry farmer. But, while the chooks were laying, he felt there was a waste product that might be marketable. Norm's father and uncles used to collect the poultry manure under the cages to fertilise their vegies to see who could grow the biggest tomatoes or capsicums.
      Norm, knowing how good chook poo was as a fertiliser, tried to make it into something a woman or a housewife could use in the garden, which was no easy task. Norm's great mate of more than 50 years, another Rouse Hill icon and successful businessman, Jack Iori, continually berated him about wasting his time and said that it would never work and he should give up, but Norm persisted. Norm used his engineering skills to make machines to sterilise the droppings and turn them into pellets. Trials of the product that followed, conducted on wheat in 1970 by the Department of Agriculture, showed a 150 per cent higher yield than any chemical fertilisers on the market at the time. Farmers who witnessed the trial results suggested the rapid growth resembled something like dynamite. That was when Norm's wife and business partner, Nadia, came up with the name Dynamic Lifter, which is now available all over the world.

      Poultry manure was well known as probably the best organic matter for growing vegetables; however, the acid in the raw manure had a tendency to burn plants. Norm quickly discovered that if the manure was anaerobically composted the acid content could be eliminated. And that is what made it the perfect garden fertiliser. Norm marketed the product himself and once said in a radio interview in South Australia that he was going to eliminate the smell. For an hour after the interview women rang in from everywhere to say, "Please don't change the smell." They felt if it did not smell it would not work! The product is now widely used in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

      Norm married his wife, Nadia, in 1956, and they were very close. They had three children and numerous grandchildren. Norm loved his family dearly but always had time for other people and supported his community through his membership of service clubs. Norm was a foundation member of Kenthurst Rotary Club, giving up much of his time on behalf of good causes for those less fortunate. Norm never forgot his humble beginnings and treated everyone he met with the greatest respect, speaking ill of no-one, except Labor Party members.

      Norm's other great love was fishing and he delighted in taking anyone he met out to his favourite fishing spots around Smiths Lakes. If anyone ever became seasick he would take them back close to shore, where he would tell them to swim the rest of the way as he had to get back to the fish, especially if they were biting, and he certainly meant it! Many a special guest or relative was left soaking wet after a friendly fishing trip with Norm. Almost a thousand friends and relatives turned out at Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Kellyville on Tuesday 19 February to farewell a man many said was larger than life itself—Norm Jennings, a great bloke, great Australian inventor and great Australian. May he forever rest in peace.

      Ms ANGELA D'AMORE (Drummoyne—Parliamentary Secretary) [1.39 p.m.]: I thank the member for Hawkesbury for acknowledging his great friend Norm Jennings and for highlighting his story in the Chamber. What a great man: to invent Dynamic Lifter! He was from Rouse Hill and, as the member said, he was a symbol of what is good and what is Australian. It was amazing to hear that the product came from such humble beginnings and is now exported to many countries. I thank the member for Hawkesbury for highlighting that fact. We extend our condolences to Norm's family on his passing. I am sure that he will be missed in his community. It is great that the member had such a close friendship with Norm Jennings, and I thank him for recounting his story in this place.